the fall of Roman Republic (the period of ancient Roman civilization after the
end of the Roman kingdom), then it was the era of Roman Empire, which is the
period of 27 BC – 476 AD; exactly after the reign of Julius Caesar, and was
founded by Augustus as the first Roman emperor. The title of emperor and its
sovereignty was given upon the ability to gain the respect of the army or
recognition from the Senate. Hence, it’s either he was promoted and proclaimed
by his troops or authorized for the title by the Senate, in some cases, it may
be both scenarios. Throughout the period of Roman Empire, countless of emperors
had reigned, creating numerous dynasties, taking Rome to the various wave of
changes; name after name, worst to best emperor surfaced consecutively.
Nonetheless, here’s the 10 Best
Roman Emperors you should know.
Tiberius Claudius Nero, who was later given the name Tiberius Julius Caesar as Augustus adopted him as a candidate of his heir, was the second emperor to ever rule Rome after the death of Julius Caesar. He was a son of Livia Drusilla and a step-son of Augustus after he married Drusilla. He reigned from 14 AD to 37 DC and during his sovereignty, he competently brought Rome to a great era from the economic and military perspective.
He was renowned as one of Rome’s greatest general as he was able to conquer many areas such as Dalmatia and Pannonia, extending Roman’s territory. Upon his death around 23 AD, a big amount of sesterces (about 3 billion) was saved in the imperial treasury. His tactic of diplomacy over conflicts, instead of expensive conquests his predecessor had done was very remarkable. The steps he took throughout his reign had left a stable empire for the next emperor as it showed when Rome became stronger and established empire. Thus, it made him into this list.
However, for many history enthusiasts, Tiberius lost his shine when it came to his personal value especially at the closed end of his reign. Although Tiberius did a commendable job with Rome’s economic and military power, he was rather remembered to fail in his ruling nation since it appeared from the ancient history that he left it to the Senate, by the way, that’s an action which despised by them. This turned to backfire Tiberius as he didn’t feel safe anymore in Rome because of the paranoia of the gossip and spent the rest of his life in Capri. Tiberius was also not favored by a lot of people for his pedophilia tendency and the passing story of his hobby with the young children. Thus, it’s quite hard to spot him as one of the best emperors of the Roman Empire. Nonetheless, the legacy he left for the next successor was admirable and we can’t just overlook that.
A decade after the fallen of the Western half of Roman Empire to the barbarian around 476 AD, Justinian was born. He was not originally an heir to the empire, but his uncle who quite had the position, Justin, saw potential and took him to the Constantinople to study. After the death of Emperor Anastasius, his uncle was appointed as the next emperor for the remaining part of Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, while Justinian became the co-emperor. Eventually, it was his moment to rule which famously known as the revival of the Great Roman Empire as his determination to reconquer the fallen western part of the previous Roman Empire was flaring.
Justinian ruled from 526 – 565 AD, accompanied by his powerful empress Theodora as well two of his commendable generals Belisarius and Narses. They succeeded in taking over many of lost cities as well the city of Rome itself. In modern hyetography, his ambition and action of restoration activities had crowned him the title of the “Last Roman”. Not only is he well-known for the effort to unite the western part of Roman, but Justinian was also famed for the unified code of laws or as it’s known to honor him, the Justinian Code. This code was later used as the foundation of law system around the western world. He’s also remarkable for the construction of many great buildings. The Temple of the Holy Wisdom, the infamous Hagia Sophia which became the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, was one of the masterpieces during his reign. Justinian was a great emperor with a burning passion for Rome. Unfortunately, the invasion to the western in order to reunite Rome cost them a lot. It happened to drain their treasury a lot.
Ruling the empire for more than twenty years, Antoninus Pius was an adopted son and the successor of the popular Emperor Hadrian. When he was entitled the emperor, his first act was to honor Hadrian and made Marcus Aurelius, who was also an adoptive son of Hadrian, as his successor. Antoninus was famously acknowledged for his peaceful nature in ruling the empire, from the military record, it was zero activity of confrontation. His commitment to peace was strong and rare, and it was almost scarce since it’s the time of war and expansion. This commitment was one of many things applauded from Antoninus’ reign. Thus, it’s no wonder he was in the list of the respected ‘five good emperors’.
Antonius was also famous for the temple and theaters; road and mausoleums. He built the country, paying great attention to the Roman arts and sciences. He was the first emperor to praising and respecting professor of rhetoric and philosophy with a great degree. He gave the title of honor and reward them financial aid. Antoninus was very kind and empathetic, how he created a project to give free clean water to Romans and his compassion helped Greece from earthquakes. Compared to the other Roman emperors, Antoninus was unique in his style and it was highly admired by his later generations.
If you know the great Colosseum of Rome, you should know about Vespasian. His regime commenced from 69 – 79 AD. He was a famous emperor who founded the Flavian dynasty. When he was made as the emperor, the Empire was just recovering from the corrupt antics of the notorious emperors such as Nero and Caligula. As a person with the capability and the down to earth nature, also a competent general with resolve, the Senate appointed to returning the balance that lost because of the grim deeds from the previous emperors. In ten years, he carried the duty and proving his name one more, making him one of the best Roman emperors.
During his regime, public works were the main portion of Rome restoration. He started many of the majestic place admired today. He was the planner of the temple of peace, and again, the well-known Colosseum. Unfortunately, Vespasian couldn’t see the completion of Colosseum as the death took him away before it’s done.
Publius Aelius Hadrians, or mostly known as Emperor Hadrian, ruled the Roman empire from 117 – 138 AD. He was never admitted successor by his predecessor, Trajan. However, by the proclamation of Trajan’s wife before his death, Hadrian was chosen as the heir. In his regime, Hadrian traveled all around the empire, every province. It was seemingly was a strategy he had to rule his empire. His traveling habit was a way for him to connect and to know the people he ruled. Hadrian was also a big admirer of Greek architecture. It made him as one of the great influence of Greek style in Roman architecture. The Pantheon was an example of his love for Greek architecture. Hadrian was also famous for the Hadrian’s Wall which marked the border of the northern part of Roman – Britain.
As a Roman emperor, he considerably spent a great time to tend to the military. Although his reign was largely peaceful, Hadrian and his troops could battle brutally if needed. He was close among the people in his military force; he dined and slept with them which were his sneaky way to train them to stay alert and ready. He often created a false alarm to see their level of alertness. However, it’s largely not the fame he had in the military that made him famous. It’s the rounded of his regime and his cunning demeanor which put him as one of the best Roman emperors.
Claudius was the emperor of Rome from 41 – 54 AD and also the uncle of the notorious emperor Caligula who was also his predecessor. He was born outside Italy from the Drusus and Antonia couple. His stature wasn’t so flattering that he was mocked for it. In fact, his family wasn’t thought of him as a capable candidate for the empire. However, fate brought him as an emperor after the death of his nephew.
Nobility and senate of that time opposed and doubted his ability to sit on the throne, but the military gave their utmost support to him. Claudius was quite complicated and conflicting in his nature which made him rather a unique ruler. He was determined, cruel, intuitive, and wise, yet he was also absent-minded, hesitant, and dominated by others such as his wife. However, throughout his regiment in Rome, he proved himself to be a capable emperor and a great constructor. He expended Roman territory, reforming the military service, constructing many new roads and canals for the empire. His interest also was in law that he directed at public trials and created twenty edicts daily. Unfortunately, he was likely poisoned by his wife and died in 54 AD. Nonetheless, Claudius was an admirable figure that proved himself beyond the mocks that the Senate threw to him.
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Roman Empire from 161 – 180 AD after his predecessor and brother Antonius. He was known as the last emperor of the five good emperors as well the most stoic philosophers from Rome. During his regime, Marcus Aurelius was glorious in his battle to the Parthian empire in the east. As for the Marcomannic wars, he won against the Marcomanni, Sarmatians, and Quadi. It was a possible revolt had the east got their momentum, but the emperor was quicker and immediately suppressed it, fixing the issue before it got bigger. Marcus was highly alert and careful during his reign.
He was remarkable not only as one the best Roman emperors but also as a philosopher and writer. A book he wrote during his campaign around 170 is a long-lasting work revered as one of the philosophical bibles. The book talked about the way to find and preserve equanimity in the middle of conflict using nature as the guidance. He gained the reputation as a philosopher king even after his death as it was documented by many biographers.
Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantine Augustus was a big name in the world history as he was in Roman history. Affectionately and famously known as Constantine the great, he was the first emperor to become Christian. Constantine held a major rule of historical importance since he reunited the separated empire under his reign. Constantine’s influence on Roman history was undoubtedly great and that’s without any reason. As he succeeded in reuniting the empire, he made his name great from his glory against the Roman sworn enemy such as Alamanni and Goths. He settled his name strong by naming the capital ‘Constantinople’ which later became the capital of Byzantine Empire.
He was most noticeable of the revolution by the belief that he brought in his reign to be the first Christian Roman emperor; it helped to end the war. He’s a wise man with a great ability in decision making. Hence, it gave him the spot as the figure of the great Roman, and also a historical figure to Christianity. Within his regime, he commanded the people to construct the church of Holy Sepulchre above the predicted place of Jesus’ tomb to honor and respect his teaching. This decision later was a significant nation for the future generation in the Byzantine Empire to choose their religious preference.
Marcus Ulpius Traianus who later become one of the best emperors in Rome was born around 53 AD. He was a son of a career soldier and so he grew as one; an excellent one that Emperor Domitian took a great liking of his talent and thus his way as an emperor is paved. He ruled from 98 AD until his last breath. The Senate proudly declared him as the ‘Optimus Princep’ which means ‘the best ruler’ for his achievements during his reign. Not stopping there, he was given the position as one of the five good emperors. It’s just fit for he was one of most outstanding emperor Rome ever had.
Trajan was most successful against his successor when it came to the military since he was praised for the greatest military expansion after Augustus. His skill as an efficient leader brought Rome to expand the empire to a greater extent by conquering Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Dacia. Trajan was respected by all sphere of Roman Empire. The Senate, the military, the common people; everyone looked up to him for he really did a terrific job for the Roman Empire.
Emperor Trojan’s reputation lasted not only in his period but for so long, he’s one of the very few that survived to nineteen century. His existence was very strong in Roman history since the Senate would honor and wish Roman new emperor with ‘felicier Augusto, melior Traiano’ or translated to be ‘be luckier than Augustus, and better than Trajan’. It gave the image of how great was his influence for the Roman Empire. After his death, his body was burnt and its ashes were preserved in his column. Until now, it still stood in the center of Rome.
The first Roman Emperor and also the greatest emperor of Roman history is by far Augustus. Originally named Gaius Octavius Thurinus, he was born in 63 BC and adopted as the great-nephew by Julius Caesar. The name of Augustus itself was given by the Senate as an honor and symbols of his grand achievements for Roman Empire. He reigned from 27 BC – 14 AD, the longest regimentation in comparison to other emperors in Roman history. He was the one to bridge the dreading era of the Republic with the glory era of the Empire. Augustus was also the founder of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and the maker of PAX ROMANA, the peace of Roman. He brought the peace that Roman had almost forgotten.
Biography of Augustus was a fascinating and thrilling story of Roman history, after the death of his uncle, he sought to revenge the murder with Mark Antony. Then, he took Mark Anthony and his Egyptian queen Cleopatra VI. After his victory, the new constitution was made with the Senate. Thus, the shortcut tale of how the Roman Empire was created.
He was the one to first extend the Roman territory to an enormous scale. After the Egypt and Dalmatia, he took the northern part, and grew the empire to south-east Africa, as well south-west Spain while keeping the diplomacy to salvage the frontiers. Augustus was a smart and strong leader who transformed Rome into a new face. For more than approximately two thousands centuries, Roman was free from the fear of warfare. He ruled wisely in varieties of aspects. Economic, political, and infrastructure; there’s almost no flaw in his regime. He was no doubt the first and the best Roman emperor.
And as his last public utterance had it, ‘Behold, I found Rome of clay, and leave her to you of marble’, Augustus the Great kept his words true.
There are many emperors in Roman history and they ruled with their own style and way. Some of them made a great development for the empire, peace, and prosperity which wished by many of their people. Some of them, such as the notorious Caligula and Nero, brought ruins and crises which took Rome to a great hurricane. However, these ten emperors listed were a great figure for Roman Empire history. They contributed a great impact on Roman civilization and the western world. Each of them was renowned for one or many aspects. However, if it’s not for Julius Caesar and the sequence of events made by his hands, the Roman Empire won’t be possible.
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